From washing a head full of fleas and lice to detangling chunks of hair knots, 12 barbers and hairdressers share their most terrifying stories.
This article is based on the AskReddit question "Barbers, stylists, hairdressers of reddit, has anyone ever sat in your chair with a head so nasty that you didn't even want to touch them? What is your horror story?"
Source can be found at the end of the article.
1/12. My sister is a hairstylist and got scabies once from a kid. Apparently the mom knew the kid had it too, just didn't tell my sister until they were leaving. Yuck.
2/12. My husband is a barber, one day he had a guy come in with dreads, wanting them all shaved off. He parted his dreads, looked at his scalp and noticed it was green!! He touched it and saw it ripple. Asked the guy when he'd last washed his hair, he replied 'about 3 years ago!!' My husband realised the guys whole scalp was covered in a layer of pus!! Sent him straight to A&E to have it drained and treated with antibiotics.
3/12. My cousin is a hairdresser. One time a woman brought in her special needs son. He had some hygiene issues and his ears were covered in blackheads. While all the other hairdressers recoiled in horror, my cousin gritted her teeth and gave that kid the best haircut she could. I really respected my cousin after that.
4/12. I used to work as a receptionist at a high end salon. One day, a lady called and asked if we had anyone who specialized in cutting curly hair. I matched her up with someone, asked the standard questions, and made the appointment, which turned out to be for her granddaughter.
When the family showed up, the mother and grandmother were white, and the granddaughter was African American. They obviously didn't know (and didn't bother to learn) how to take care of the girl's hair, because it was in a giant, waist-length ponytail that was completely matted. She also had a bit of a developmental disability, and they claimed she would not wash her hair herself.
I could smell her as soon as she walked in, but when the stylist got her hair wet at the shampoo bowl, the smell quickly permeated the entire salon. It was like a punch to the gut. The hair stylist had to keep coming up front for fresh air. She said giant flakes/sheets of dandruff and buildup were basically crusted to the girl's scalp and throughout her hair. The matted ponytail was the worst of it. What should have been a simple 45 minute service ended up taking over four hours.
Continue this on the next page!
The girl looked great when she was done. I felt terrible for her because it was pretty obvious that her mom and grandma had no intention of keeping her hair maintained. I got the impression that they basically only took her for a haircut when things got completely out of control. I was horrified that they apparently weren't even bothering to wash her hair at home. They bought a bunch of products that the stylist recommended, but ended up returning everything a day or two later.
5/12. Long time ago but I had to wash and cut a teenager that hadn't washed his hair in what looked like months. Salon policy was to wash after a men's cut and the smell was awful. After his cut, I tried to wet his hair in the shampoo bowl and the water just ran off his hair because of all the oil buildup. I had seen a lot during my years as a stylist but that was the worst experience.
6/12. My dad was a hairdresser before he passed. When I was young, I had really bad psoriasis on my scalp. My dad has been the only one to ever cut my hair (passed 3 months ago, and I can't bring myself to get my hair cut, even though it's desperately needed) in my 25 years on this planet, and I can remember a few times sitting in his chair where he was literally combing and cutting out large chunks of dead, flakey skin.
It was the most embarrassed I have ever been in front of him, because no matter how many topical remedies I tried, I couldn't get it to go away. Eventually grew out of the psoriasis, but I still hold onto this moment as one of my favorite moments, where the love my dad had for me really shone through.
7/12. One of the first shops I worked in there were two individuals who would regularly come in for cuts. Both of them were physically so dirty it changed their skin tone, and they absolutely REEKED of cat piss. Being close to them made my eyes water, and it was extremely difficult to breathe as the smell of ammonia was just plain overwhelming.
We never turned them away, and we were always as polite as we could be... But those haircuts felt like they lasted three hours.
Continue this on the next page!
8/12. I had a young man come in with his mother. He was about 8 years old and had tight curly hair. His mother ask me to shave down to a 00000 that is the shortest you can go with clippers. I said sure it was my last cut of the day and I was eager to go home. I start the service and notice barely 1/3rd in that he had a lice infestation under the tight curly hair. I mean these guys were huge. Probably why his mother needed me to shave it off.
So.. I discontinued the service and spent the next 3 hours disinfecting everything in sight. The boys mother called the barbershop later to complain because I wouldn't finish shaving her sons hair. We tried to explain that it was illegal for us to continue the service as it might spread lice to others and recommended a specialty shop that could take care of this for them but she demanded that it was because we were racist. That was fun.
9/12. My mother was a hair dresser in the 1960s for Vidal Sasson. During the time of the beehive. Customers wouldn't wash their hair for weeks, they'd just keep spraying it to keep it in place as it was such a complicated do. This meant a LOT of fleas, lice, and on one occasion cockroaches that had to be washed out.
For some reason this never bothered my mother all that much.
10/12. When I was an assistant at my first salon right out of school we had classes every Wednesday night. Well one week I couldn't find a model in time so my mentor had someone she knew come in and be my model. So the model comes in, seems perfectly normal. She sits in my chair I start the consultation and start looking through her hair to see what I'd need to do. Apparently this young lady had not washed her hair in what I'm assuming was weeks because her hair was so greasy that every time I touched her hair my hand came back drenched in grease.
And the smell, oh man I'll never forget that smell. It was the worst thing I've ever had the displeasure of working with. I asked my mentor if I could shampoo her before starting and was told that I couldn't. So here I am working on this girl who almost literally has grease dripping from her hair. I must have washed my hands 10 times that night. Needless to say I had my own model for every class after that one.
11/12. So this girls hair wasn't particularly nasty, but she has this knot in the back of her head. Kind of like she had a skinny braid back there and let it get out of control. It was knotted up, but nothing I couldn't comb out, I've seen way worse. Anyway, she wanted a full head of highlights, but wanted me to "work around" the knot. She wouldn't let me even attempt to comb it out.
Continue this on the next page!
It was so weird. She got an attitude with me when I told her I couldn't do my job properly if she wouldn't let me get the knot out first. Finally she realized I wasn't going to budge and said something along the lines of, "so I guess you won't do my hair till the knot is gone..." and gets up and leaves.
12/12. This is my time to shine! I have a few doozies...
First one: guy comes in for a haircut...Well all seems well, he gets a shampoo and then I go to cut and I notice this weird flappy thing on the top of his scalp so I take a look at it thinking it's a scab or something. Well, it has legs... So I take the fine teeth of my comb and pick this little critter out.
Come to find out, dude had a tick on his head and he probably wouldn't have noticed had I not picked it off.
Pic for proof: [tick from client's head]
Second one: I was brand spanking new to doing hair in a community that was mostly old people. Well, lady comes in looking for a haircut and I shit you not, she had a giant crust mountain on her head. I wanna say like 3 inches in diameter. It was disgusting. Now I know due to laws in my state you can refuse service if there is a medical condition like that.
Well me being brand new, did not know this. She brought in a medicated shampoo from her Dr., so I used it on her and it smelled like cat food. During the cut, she had lumps of crust falling out and it was disgusting. I will never do that again.
Third one: Lady comes in and explains her step-daughter has been in the hospital for 6 mos dealing with treatment from Anorexia and her hair is a mess and she asks if she can bring her in for us to fix it. Ok sure, why not. Well... girl comes in and she's probably 95 lbs soaking wet and sobbing from anxiety and crying. At this hospital she was at, supposably no one washed her hair FOR 6 MONTHS. So I tried to wash it and she was crying and screaming and her scalp was red and irritated and covered in knots and flakes. I sat with her for 2 hours trying to comb out all the knots but she cried the whole time and my hands were covered in gunk. I still don't know whatever happened to that girl. I hope she's ok.
Click below and SHARE this with your friends!
Secretly, we all fear having birthdays like the one in Sixteen Candles, where nobody shows up and we're forced to deal with how lonely we feel as people. But sometimes, people have things happen on their birthday that put Molly Ringwald to shame.
It stinks to have your special day go sour. Moreover, it hurts, that if whatever happened was bad enough, you will never be able to not associate your birthday with that awful thing.